We read a fascinating interview with Charlie Fawcett who is the Managing Director of a Yorkshire based company called ‘Twisted’ which creates bespoke versions of utility cars.

Now everyone knows that the motor industry are operating in a sector which has been hit particularly hard by the recession. Yet, by using clever (and some might say ‘off the wall’) positioning in the marketplace, Fawcett’s company has succeeded in achieving seven-fold growth despite the current challenges in the UK economy.

His company are competing against Bentley, Lamborghini and Ferrari – just about the coolest brands for the man or woman who has everything. So exactly how does he manage to have a four-month waiting list for his bespoke Land Rover Defenders?

Well we thought we’d take a look at some of the factors that we believe have contributed to the continued success of the company.

Identify your target market

We’re constantly telling our clients that they can’t be all things to all customers. They need to identify their target market and make sure they have the right product to suit that market. And then they need to become the trusted authority in that market.

Charlie Fawcett originally set up the company in 2001 with the idea to retune and enhance Land Rover Defender engines after he was unable to find anyone to do what he wanted to his own Land Rover.

He then quickly made the decision to completely remodel the cars and increased business by solely focusing on Defenders – so his company became the trusted authority in the marketplace.

“We saw what was available and the standard was not there, so we just pushed on” he said. “We made a crucial decision to just stick to Defenders and we have never looked back.”

It must have been tempting for the company to diversify into other cars but Fawcett remained focussed on his target market and has reaped the benefits.

Developing a unique selling proposition

Another question we always ask clients is why, given all the other providers in the marketplace, should a customer choose you over all the other suppliers.

Well, being the trusted authority answers that question immediately.

But the company has other unique selling propositions. They created three different ranges – the Alpine, the French and the Retro – all of these vehicles can be specified to the customers requirements with engine upgrades to more than 200bhp.

As well as including automatic transmission, brake upgrades and modified suspension they include less traditional improvements such as soundproofing (useful if your children are anything like ours!) and bespoke leather interiors. The firm tries to meet every demand from 18-carat gold thread to stripping out the engine for something with more punch.

The company does a lot of repeat business – in fact some customers own as many as seven different vehicles (ours is not to wonder why!).

Traditionally Land Rover Defenders are uncomfortable, slow and really noisy but by focusing on what customers really want, the company is able to get customers to pay an amount equal to the original purchase cost of the vehicle in order to make it more comfortable, more powerful, faster and quieter – in fact the usual accoutrements one would expect from a luxury car.

“They all want the same level of luxury they are used to in everyday life, but in a Defender,” says Fawcett.

Fawcett goes on to say that “You can drive a Defender anywhere – fishing, ski-ing, The Ritz, around town – you are not flashy but you are not scruffy either. I think that’s the appeal.” (I’m glad he explained that little mystery for me!).

Although Fawcett has revealed two cars are being made for Malaysian royalty he will not be drawn on other clients.

“I think as well as being able to take it anywhere, our customers love the idea they may well spend £100,000 on it, but no one would know they have” he says.

It doesn’t matter as to whether you’re as mystified by this logic as I am. The point is there’s obviously a very lucrative market for the sevices this company supplies and they’re doing all the right things to take advantage of it!

So the next time you see what you think is a bog standard Land Rover Defender it might be worth taking a second glance, you never know who might be driving it.

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